While gathering for Michigan’s biggest celebration of LBGT pride, give three cheers (or even five) for improved care access thanks to the ACA.
This weekend, people from across Michigan will head to Detroit’s Hart Plaza for Motor City Pride to celebrate the many contributions and achievements of the LGBT community. One key advancement to recognize is improved access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Although LGBT Americans often face obstacles when seeking healthcare — and there is a lot more work to do in that regard — the ACA includes specific benefits and protections for the LGBT community. These benefits have helped expand access to quality, affordable health coverage. In fact, according to a study by the Urban Institute, the uninsured rate for lesbian, gay and bisexual adults has been almost cut in half since the middle of 2013.
Erin Knott, Michigan State Director for Enroll America, has a special appreciation for what all this means.
As a member of the LGBT community myself, I can tell you firsthand that we often face unique health challenges. Every uninsured LGBT Michigander should know that the Affordable Care Act includes provisions to ensure they receive the care they need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. While there is still more that needs to be done to ensure every LGBT American can get quality care, the Affordable Care Act has created historic opportunities for everyone to get access to affordable health coverage.
Want more reasons to celebrate? Here are five things LGBT Michiganders should know about how Obamacare can help them get covered and stay healthy:
1. Plans sold through the health insurance Marketplace provide key protections for LGBT Americans.
Nobody can be denied preventive coverage because of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression — historic new protections. What’s more, people can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition like cancer or HIV.
2. Plans must offer key health benefits to everyone.
Every health plan must cover 10 essential health benefits such as prescription medications, emergency room visits and preventive services. Lifetime and annual caps on coverage are now also prohibited — which is good news for everyone, but especially people living with HIV. Also, insurance companies can’t deny transgender people free preventive services, regardless of their sex assigned at birth, gender identity or recorded gender.
3. All legally married couples can enroll in a plan through the Marketplace.
Under the ACA, all legally married same-sex couples can enroll in a plan through the Marketplace, even if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
4. Financial assistance is available to help make plans affordable.
Most Michiganders are eligible to receive financial assistance to help pay for their premiums. During the last enrollment period, 88% of Michiganders who signed up got help paying for health insurance, in the form of tax credits to lower their monthly premium.
5. Free, one-on-one enrollment assistance is available from culturally competent experts.
Michiganders can visit the Get Covered America Connector to see where free, local enrollment assistance is available in their area and schedule an appointment. Enrollment assisters are trained, including in issues specific to the LGBT community, before becoming certified to provide this assistance.
Even though open enrollment has ended, you may still qualify for a special enrollment period through the Marketplace if you’ve had a life-changing event such as getting married, changing jobs or moving to a different coverage area. You can learn more, check out available plans and enroll if you’re eligible at Healthcare.gov. For those who qualify based on income requirements, enrollment in the Healthy Michigan Plan is available year-round.
Now get out there and celebrate this weekend. And if you haven’t already, find out if you can get covered.
[Image credit: essygie via Flickr.]